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Magoffin athlete, national champion honored at MCHS

SALYERSVILLE – A Magoffin County native was celebrated at the Magoffin County High School for winning a national championship this year.

Kennedi Stacy, who is an MCHS alum, led the Transylvania University Pioneers to the NCAA Division III championship.

In a room full of coaches, administrators, student athletes, family and friends, Magoffin County High School honored Kennedi Stacy on Wednesday, May 17, whose record-breaking and setting season with Transy captivated an audience around the nation, but especially close to home.

Magoffin County High School Principal Brian Conley said, “We sometimes subconsciously put a ceiling on what we expect or think someone might achieve and what may become a reality for them. For instance, we don’t expect everyone to walk away and become a rock star someday, and frankly, we don’t expect one of our student athletes to someday be part of a team, and a strong contributing member of a team who becomes national champions on any level. We are fortunate that one of the students who used to walk our hallways, one of the athletes, that has happened. That has become a reality and I think it speaks to and is emblematic of the fact that we shouldn’t put limits on what we might accomplish someday and what we might be a part of someday. If you’re a senior here, raise the ceiling high.”

For Coach Justin Williams, his first year coaching the Lady Hornets was Kennedi’s senior year at the high school.

“Every team that I’ve had since that first year will be able to tell you, I might not be good and X’s and O’s, I might not be good at gametime decisions, but I’m really good about talking about Kennedi Stacy,” Williams said. “There’s not a week goes by I don’t tell a Kennedi Stacy story. A lot of times there’s not a practice that goes by I don’t tell a Kennedi Stacy story, because Kennedi is a special person. She was a special player, and just to say a few things about Kennedi, you can be the greatest player on the team – you can be the greatest athlete on the team – but if you don’t learn how to lead others then you’ll have difficulty on team sports. I still marvel at what I saw Kennedi do as a leader that first year. When we were preparing for our district tournament game against Sheldon Clark, we came up with a crazy idea to combat their 1-2-2 zone we were going to use Kennedi as a decoy. That if Kennedi would work hard and cut through the zone, and occupy the defense, it would open up things for everybody else, and Kennedi bought in on that. Now, Kennedi could have sulked up and said, “No I want to shoot every shot, I don’t want to be a decoy. I’m the 15th Region Player of the Year. What do you mean you’re making me a decoy?” But she did it willingly. She probably still remembers the practices. Put a 1:45 on the clock and she would have to cut and move, cut and move the entire time. What happened when we got in the game? The first part of the game, Shay gets two threes in the first quarter. Red hits two threes. Barnett hits open jumpers at the free throw line. And people who don’t know anything about the game of basketball would think they were open by chance, but we knew what was going on. Kennedi was occupying all five Sheldon Clark Cardinals at the time. Shots were opening up for her teammates. You know who the happiest person in the gym was when her teammates hit the shots? Kennedi was, and that set up the greatest basketball play I’ve ever saw or was a part of. We were down three with 6.5 seconds to go, and ball’s on the other side of the court. In the timeout I drew up a play for Kennedi to get the ball and outrun – here’s what good coaching is: ‘Kennedi, you get the ball. You outrun everybody else, and get to the other end of the court and if they don’t guard you, shoot it, and if they guard you, make the decision.’ That was the play. She caught the ball in a run. Three dribbles down and the defender comes up to her and she passes the ball to Macy Thacker in the corner. She hits a three as the buzzer sounds. We go to overtime and we end up winning in overtime. Win, lose or draw, that was the right play, but what really sticks out in my mind is Kennedi fouled out with 1:35 – 1:40 to go in overtime, and at that moment she could have made it all about herself. She could have sulked, she could have complained, she could have been mad, she could have acted terribly and pouted. When she stepped to the other end of that court, she became the biggest cheerleader our players had. She became another assistant coach on the bench, and that image of her and Red holding each other and cheering on their teammates during that overtime period is etched in my mind of what you want, not just in a teammate, but what you want in a leader. What I think this past season for her, in many ways, we took that journey vicariously with her and what a journey she took us on: an undefeated regular season, 13 points a game, 6 rebounds a game, 3 assists a game, over 2 steals a game, conference defensive player of the year, and then she took us on a ride with the post-season tournament. Through her playing, she took us to Connecticut to the Final Four, she took our little community through her to Dallas. There’s a since of pride and when she climbed up that ladder and she cut that net, that was us doing that with her, and I think we owe her a debt of gratitude for that. She represented us well.”

Kennedi was presented with what will hang at her alma mater gymnasium at Magoffin County High School, as well as a plaque for herself and a copy to stay in the trophy case outside the gym.

Kennedi told Mortimer Media Group, “I honestly felt like everything was just numb, like I can remember one of my teammates, Laken Ball, she was standing on the free-throw line, and she was like, ‘Hey, what’s the score? What’s going to happen if I miss this free throw?’ And I’m like, ‘You’re not going to miss it. You’re going to make it and we’re going to win and we’re ahead by four right now,’ because it was hard to find the score. You look up and it’s not on the center of the ceiling, it’s just floating around the bleachers, so I’m like, ‘We’re good, we’re good. Make it or miss it, we’re going home with a national championship.’”

“I’m not going to say it was my plan, but I hope that I am an inspiration to all the younger kids and open some doors for them to go do bigger and better things outside of Salyersville,” Kennedi said.

Kennedi Stacy is taking advantage of her fifth-year eligibility, and it might be her toughest year for the classwork for her degree, but she will be back on the court next year.

“I’ll be playing basketball, again, next year, and I’ll be going to school at Transy and I will graduate next May,” Kennedi said. “Then, after that, PA school, hopefully that’s at UK, but I’m not for sure, yet.”

As for what awaits her on the court, she is more determined, telling Mortimer Media Group, “Obviously, coming out of a perfect season, it’s not going to be easy if we do lose a game, but I think that we have our goals and they’re set pretty high and we’re going to come back. We’re only losing one teammate, so all of us will be back, and I think we’re going to do it, again.”

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